An Interview with Rashad Jennings

During the third quarter of Liberty’s football game against Gardner-Webb, 2007 Liberty alumni and Jacksonville Jaguar running back Rashad Jennings stopped by press row for an impromptu interview with Chris Lang of the News and Advance and Nate Brown of the Liberty Champion.

Q: On injury?

A: It’s a long season. You have to make sure you come back right. (The injury) happened in a game. It happened on a special teams play, but I kept on playing, kept on playing and kept on playing to the point where it was like something’s up.

Q: How is the battle with Karim Deji?

A: I don’t see it as a battle. I’m battling with Maurice (Jones-Drew). It’s not even a battle. I’ve never seen myself as No. 2 back. I’m just the next guy to go in and if you get called you’ve got to go. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what’s going on before, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind. We can’t get caught up in any of that stuff. You know, somebody makes one play and then somebody can say, “Oh, look at him. You know what’s going on inside and that’s all that matters. I give it my 100 percent.

Q: How is your progress from year one to year two?

A: Understanding. Energy endurance. Getting tired, that’s a weight. I’m just waiting for my name to get called and that’s all you can do — prepare yourself. I like to remind myself, “when opportunity presents itself, it’s too late to prepare.” So that’s a matter of, no matter what’s going on, one day somebody’s going to call your name and its going to be too late to prepare, so you need to be doing things before that.

Q: Who is your mentor in Jacksonville?:

A: Montel Owens. We encourage each other a lot. The team chaplain (also).  The biggest mentors (are) kids. Every time I talk to kids, it is a reminder that they teach me… Make sure I’m doing this for the right reasons.  That’s probably my biggest mentor.

Q: Thoughts on the (league’s direction)?

A: Nothing is going to happen right now. March 11 there’s going to be a lockout. How long? We don’t know. To be honest with you, it doesn’t matter with me.  I have no control over that. I’m not going be one of the guys setting at the forefront barking at it, but we have people in places equipped to take care of it.

Q: Thoughts on the helmet-to-helmet uproar?

A: That doesn’t pertain to us because we’re not hitting any defenseless players. Usually they’re on guard and trying to kill us […] but talking to a lot of the defensive players, they’re upset because that’s what you’re taught. You’re taught to go in and bang. There are clear cut pictures of somebody using their helmet and there’s iffy calls. That’s a grey area where to determine whether or not you fouled a man. But football is football. It’s going to be a violent game. That’s why we play it and that’s why people watch it.

Q: Role on special teams?

A: Speed rush off the edge on punts. I’m coming off the edge on a punt return and on a punt I’m wing protecting. Kickoff, I’m a five and kick return I’m up front.

Q: How’s the AFC South looking this year?

A: It’s tough in there. You got the Colts. You got the Texans, they’re on a roll. And you got Tennessee. They just picked up Randy Moss to make them more of a threat, and you got us. Nobody is in control right now, so everybody is getting ready to take control. We got the Texans coming to our house next week.

News & Advance: What do you think about (Liberty’s facilities)?

Rashad: I got goosebumps when Mr. Barber showed me around yesterday. It was crazy. It feels good to know you were a part of it. I’m excited. I wish I went here, ripping up the field knowing we could go to the playoffs if we won our conference, but if feels good to know that’s the work we put in. It was a team organization to get to this point. I’m glad I was apart of it.

Q: Do you think any Liberty players have NFL potential?

A: I talked to Danny Broggins. We talked for like 10 minutes and I was encouraging him to come out on the first play. I said being in the league, playing on special teams, if you make plays on special teams, people will remember. The first play he scores a touchdown, (later) he gets a pick. I was like, “I need to start talking to him every game!” I also talked to Mike Brown and Chris Summers. Those are the guys who were here when I was here, and I always try to push the next generation. It’s fun to come out here and watch them.

Statistically, you are going to have a shot. A lot of these kids are going to have shots. It’s just a matter if somebody will give them a chance.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge for a new back in the NFL?

A: Picking up the pass protection.  You pick that up, you’re fine. Other than that, running the football is just running the football. As a player you have to slow down the game and understand you’re playing football. If you’re not getting a lot of reps, you can begin to question your ability and it’s just not fun. You have to give yourself your own confidence. It’s a business. Nobody’s going to baby you. You have to surround yourself with a good group of men… and when it’s time to go, go. There is no, “Well today’s Tuesday, I can take this day off. Today’s Thursday so you can run a little slower this day.” You have to go every single play or else somebody else will.

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